Getting into a top MBA program has never been easy. Even with more relaxed admission requirements such as fewer essays and the option to submit GRE or GMAT scores, America’s best B-schools still want the cream of the crop. Add to this the thousands of applications these schools receive each year, and the possibility of being accepted becomes even more daunting. Take Harvard Business School (HBS) for example. The school’s MBA program received nearly 10,000 applications for the class of 2018. The school reports that a mere 11 percent of applicants were admitted.

The average GMAT score for those admitted was 730, and the highest was 760. The average score for those admitted to HBS is up from 718 in 2013. The GMAT has a maximum score of 800.

Though it’s not surprising that elite B-schools such as HBS, Stanford, Yale SOM, and The Wharton School are tough to get into, a number of other top schools that rarely make the news can be quite difficult to get into as well. A few examples are:

  • D'Amore-McKim School of Business, Northeastern University
  • Foster School of Business, University of Washington
  • Hough Graduate School of Business – Warrington College of Business, University of Florida
  • Katz Graduate School of Business, University of Pittsburgh
  • Mays Business School, Texas A&M
  • Merage School of Business, UC Irvine
  • Scheller College of Business, Georgia Tech
  • Smeal College of Business, Penn State University
  • The College of Business, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • The Graduate School of Management, UC Davis

Acceptance rates at these schools range from 15 to 25 percent, and GMAT scores for accepted students are typically no lower than 650. This places them in the 76th percentile.

Now let’s look as 10 of the toughest MBA programs to get into, along with average GMAT scores, and incoming full-time enrollment for the MBA class of 2018. Schools are in order by average GMAT score—highest to lowest.

1. Stanford Graduate School of Business
GMAT: 737, highest 790
Applications: 8,116
Enrollment: 417

2. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
GMAT: 730, highest 780
Applications: 6,679
Enrollment: 851 

3. Harvard Business School (HBS)
GMAT: 730, highest 760
Applications: 9,759
Enrollment: 934

4. Yale University (SOM)                              
GMAT: 730, highest 760
Applications: 2,823
Enrollment: 334

5. Northwestern University (Kellogg School)
GMAT: 728, highest 760
Applications: 4,533
Enrollment: 474       

6. University of Chicago (Booth)                   
GMAT: 726, highest 790
Applications: 4,169
Enrollment: 585

7. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)               
GMAT: 724, highest 760
Applications: 5,707
Enrollment: 409

8. Columbia Business School                         
GMAT: 717, highest 780
Applications: 6,008
Enrollment: 776

9. University of California—Berkeley (Haas)           
GMAT: 717, highest 750
Applications: 4,031
Enrollment: 252 

10. Dartmouth College (Tuck)                       
GMAT: 717, highest 750
Applications: 2,563
Enrollment: 285

If you are thinking about getting an MBA, try to keep an open mind. If you don’t get into the school of your choice, plenty of other options are available. A school that you may have never considered might end up being a better match for you. Use our interactive map to find information on schools and colleges offering MBA programs in your state and across the U.S.


"MBA Program Rankings - Toughest To Get Into." The Princeton Review. TPR Education IP Holdings, LLC, 2017. Web. 29 Apr. 2017. 

Poets&Quants. Poets&Quants, Inc., 2017. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.

Powell, Farran. "10 MBA Programs With the Highest GMAT Scores." U.S. News & World Report, Education. U.S. News & World Report L.P., 14 Mar. 2017. Web. 29 Apr. 2017.

Note: Enrollment, GMAT, and other information about the schools listed was obtained from each school’s official website. At the time this article was published, all information was accurate.